With its much-anticipated return just under eight weeks away, the Colonial Downs Racing presented by Woodford Reserve—”More Racing, More Money and More Fun”—2022 season promises to be the biggest horsemen-incentive meeting in the New Kent, Va. track’s history.
Now in its fourth year under the management of the Colonial Downs Group and ownership of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment ─ and as further proof of Colonial’s progress in the Middle Atlantic region—Colonial Downs will offer a record of more than $600,000 in daily average purses, punctuated by an expanded stakes schedule and increased purse monies in open races, and for Virginia-bred, sired, and certified horses.
As an additional benefit to horsemen, maiden special weight (MSW) races during the meeting will carry a $60,000 purse.
The $300,000 Virginia Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds and the $200,000 Virginia Oaks for 3-yearfillies, both on Sept. 6, once again highlight the stakes calendar.
This year’s meeting has been expanded by six racing days beginning July 11 and continuing through Sept. 7 with racing every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Daily first post time is 1:45 pm ET.
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All Colonial Downs races will be televised on TVG.
The Colonial Downs barn area opens on Monday, June 27, condition and stakes book, stall applications and all horsemen information are available at colonialdowns.com/horsemen. Stall applications have been received thus far from more than 60 trainers for the 2022 meeting.
Colonial continues to be one of the nation’s most horsemen-friendly racetracks, proven by its innovative meet-long horsemen incentives branded as “Every Race, Every Day.” As a bonus, once again, all owners will be guaranteed $1,000 per start or their share of the purse money, and all trainers will receive $300 per start as recognition for loyal participation every race, every day.
“In an ultra-competitive racing environment, we look forward to another season with bigger purses and greater incentives for our horsemen and industry stakeholders towards increased participation in the 2022 season,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing Operations. “Our team is excited to present a wide-ranging program of racing opportunities on our outstanding racing surfaces.”
The formidable purse and bonus incentives contributed to a total of 725 horses stabled at Colonial last year. In all, total handle for the 21-days was $46,867,078, which generated a record average daily handle over $2.2M.
Owing further to the popularity of Colonial Downs and its racing surfaces, the 2021 meeting generated a total of 1,713 starters for the 205 races, for an average of 8.36 runners per race. A total of 148 races were contested over Colonial’s signature Secretariat Turf Course ─ the widest grass racing surface in the country. Both of Colonial’s racing surfaces are highly regarded as among the safest in all of horse racing as evidenced by public release of Equine Injury Database data from The Jockey Club. A total of 1,325 horses competed over turf, an average of 8.85 starters per race; and 388 horses participated in 57 dirt races for an average of 6.81 per race.
“We are extremely proud of our past performances and the opportunity to build upon our enormous success positioning Colonial Downs as one of the nation’s elite boutique race meetings for horsemen and fans alike,” said John Marshall, Colonial Downs Group Executive Vice President, Operations. “The Virginia Equine Alliance and the Virginia HPBA also have provided the commitment and support for our cause to revitalize racing in Virginia and continue its growth and prosperity.”
In addition to those based in Virginia, Colonial looks forward to new and returning horsemen participating in the 2022 meeting from Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Maryland, Delaware, Illinois, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, among other states.
Trainers expected to return for the 2022 meet include Graham Motion, winner of both the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Virginia Derby (G3), leading money-earner Michael Trombetta, Dallas Stewart, John Ortiz, Mike Tomlinson, Mike Stidham, Hamilton Smith, and Michelle Lovell. Last year, Smith bested Lovell 10-9 for the overall meet trainer’s title.
Colonial looks forward to welcoming several Chicago-based trainers including nine-time Arlington Park leading trainer Larry Rivelli, Chris Bock, Tony Mitchell, Joel Campbell, and Mike Campbell.
Leading the local contingent will be Sarah Nagle, whose Big Luck Farm won two Virginia-restricted stakes races last year as a part of the advantageous Virginia-restricted, Virginia-bred, and Virginia-certified program; Karen Godsey of Eagle Point Farm and Susan Cooney.
Highlighting regional competition, the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series is back, featuring four open stakes races with combined purses of $600,000 on Aug. 16.
As a part of showcasing premier racing and horsemanship, Colonial Downs is at the forefront of safety and integrity. Colonial is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Alliance to reduce equine fatalities and supports the rules and regulations of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), which goes into effect on July 1.
The 2022 meeting will be conducted under the strictest safety and security protocols. These practices played a significant role resulting in zero racing-related fatalities in 2021, placing Colonial Downs among the country’s best on The Jockey Club’s Equine Industry Database (EID).
Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA) continue to support the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Since 2019, the two organizations have combined to contribute more than $100,000 for the care of retired racehorses.
“We couldn’t ask for a better partner than Colonial’s racing team and our horsemen can’t wait to break from the gate on July 11th,” said VHBPA Executive Director Frank Petramalo.
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